‘I don’t want to be seen as a rich father's rich son’

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SummaryHe talks about a hundred lipstick colours, quotes the Old Testament and does not see a negative even in HIV+. That’s Samir Modi, 38. The hands-on guy is always thinking and trying to make it work.

He talks about a hundred lipstick colours, quotes the Old Testament and does not see a negative even in HIV+. That’s Samir Modi, 38. The hands-on guy is always thinking and trying to make it work. “My endeavour is to touch people’s lives,” emphasises the chief of Delhi-based cosmetics company ColorBar and retail chain Twenty Four Seven—Convenience Stores. “If I haven't touched your life, what is the fun of living?”

The sentiment finds an echo in his business, which focuses on a simple Biblical adage: “If you build, they will come.” And it seems to be working well for him. Get into a Twenty Four Seven store in Delhi and you can even have Hanuman Mandir ki kachori there.

The idea is simple. “People like kachoris made near the Hanuman temple, but hardly get to go there to have it.” People love the stuff, and he laughs all the way to the bank. From the introduction of food items to Western Union Money Transfer services, his convenience stores have them all, or at least, try to ‘have everything’ under one roof. Moreover, the stores are open all the time. The idea is to make life easier, he quips. However, starting Twenty Four Seven was a real test of his character. “People said that I was being stupid because nobody would come at night. But if I hadn’t done things differently, then I would not be where I am,” Modi says.

He bucked the trend and 40% of the sales happen after 11 pm, the busiest hour being 2 am. He has yet to scale it up, though. Today his company has four convenience stores, with plans afoot to open 165 more in the next financial year, mostly in and around Delhi. Moreover, his stores stock about 9,800 items. A large-format store typically carries about 7,000-7,500 items, medium one has 4,000 to 4,500 items and small one, about 2,000 items.

His earlier venture, ColorBar, did not get much encouragement either when he launched it. “People said it would be madness to compete with the likes of Revlon or L’Oreal, which are established brands having deep pockets and a long presence.” In contrast, Modi had no distribution mechanism and zero reach. But the venture took off. The company had only 32 products to showcase two years ago. Today, it boasts of 450 products and 650 outlets, with a 5% market share nationally.

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